You dream of being a writer.
Maybe you even feel there is a book within you.
Each New Year, you resolve to do it. To start writing regularly. To start working on a book or a blog.
But what happens?
You get too busy.
You don’t have the energy.
You can’t find the time.
Your health or the health of a dear one falters.
You doubt whether you have what it takes.
But deep within lies your dream, waiting for you, year after year.
You can’t erase this dream of becoming a writer. Because this dream is the message you are destined to share with the world.
But how to do it? How to make this dream a reality?
How to start and not give up?
There is only one way to do it. You need to write. Every day.
It is a challenge. However, there is a simple way to overcome this challenge without using willpower or needing a dose of discipline.
You need to establish a tiny habit of writing.
According to behavioral scientist, BJ Fogg, there are two ways to change behavior in the long-term: either change your environment, or take baby steps.
Most people who want to create a new habit choose a big goal and experience a burst of enthusiasm...which is then eventually followed by failure when momentum stalls and motivation wanes. I bet you know all about this.
However, with the strategy of tiny habits, you'll be able to develop a new habit with ease without having to use willpower or discipline to achieve your goal.
Want to make your dream of being a successful writer a reality this year? Join the Budding Writer's Lab. CLICK HERE to find out more.
The Secret of Tiny Habits
According to behavioral scientist, BJ Fogg, a “tiny habit” is a behavior that...
- You do at least once a day.
- It takes you less than 30 seconds to do.
- It requires little effort.
Let’s take a look at what a tiny writing habit could be. Remember, your habit needs to be ridiculously small and easy to accomplish so that you only need a minimum of activation energy (the energy to start a habit). The smaller the habit, the less energy you need to establish it.
The smaller the habit, the less energy you need to establish it.
A simple way to set writing goals is to determine a word count.
Let’s think of a daily word count that is hard to miss. What about building a daily habit of writing just 20 words--which is about two sentences?
It sounds easy, doesn’t it? But you may wonder if it’s enough. How could two sentences each day possibly lead to completing an article or a book?
The key is that you are establishing a new writing habit.
This habit is going to nurture your dream. Once your new tiny writing habit is established, it will grow of its own accord and, after the first few weeks, you’ll be raring to write more than just twenty words.
Are YOU prepared to commit to writing two sentences each day?
But What to Write About?
In her book, The Artist's Way, Julia Cameron suggests starting the day with morning pages. This means writing three pages of whatever comes into your mind in a journal. We can take this idea for our twenty word tiny habit. Write twenty words (or two sentences) from your stream of consciousness into a journal each morning.
How to Make Tiny Habits work
According to BJ Fogg, there are a three steps that make tiny habits easy to establish:
Let's take a look at each of these three steps in detail.
1. Schedule your new tiny habit after an existing, daily habit.
This helps you to anchor the new habit in your routine. The current habit then becomes a trigger event for the new tiny habit.
In my experience, writing in the early morning is a great way to start your day! The trick is to include writing in your regular sequence of events.
Think of an action you routinely do every morning. You get out of bed and go to the bathroom. What then? Do you have a shower? Try taking a the few minutes to write after going to the bathroom and before having a shower.
2. Eliminate friction to make your tiny habit easy to perform
It’s important to make it very easy to action the new tiny habit. The problem we all suffer from is decision fatigue.
Creating a habit saves us from having to make new decisions each time we contemplate starting to write. Every action needs a decision to trigger it. Even small actions, like finding your journal, finding a pen or your digital notebook, or clearing a desk or table need a decision. And these decisions create friction.
To eliminate friction, prepare your tiny writing habit the evening before by laying out your journal and pen (or your digital notebook) where you want to write. In this way, you won’t need to make any further decisions in the morning, except for sitting down and writing. This preparation is a cognitive commitment to your tiny habit.
3. Celebrate each time you action your tiny habit
Celebrating the achievement of your tiny habit is a great way of reinforcing your new routine because it strengthens the new neural pathway your are creating. Try using a fist pump or saying out loud, “Yeah, I did it!”
If you want to know more about tiny habits, you can join a free session of BJ Fogg's tiny habits program.
But what about motivation? How can you keep your motivation sharp?
How to Keep Motivated
Motivation is not a fixed entity. It fluctuates. When we face a challenge, our motivation naturally tends to dip.
We long to be motivated before we take action. However, it’s rare for anyone to be motivated in advance of a challenging task. Just ask any athlete. For example, even though I love karate practice, I often feel a reluctant to go to the hard classes for blackbelts. Nevertheless, I hardly ever miss the black-belt classes each week because there is something I know about motivation:
Motivation arises out of action. Once you start, motivation follows.
As you imagine, building a tiny writing habit not only helps you develop a regular writing routine, it also acts as a daily injection of motivation. It functions as active inspiration.
A further way of keep your motivation high is by using the power of accountability.
Achieve Long-Term Success Through Accountability
Being accountable can keep you on track to reach your writing goals. Of course, we should be accountable to ourselves. However, it helps to have an accountability partner.
Accountability partners can be a mentors, coaches, friends or members of a likeminded group. For your habit of daily writing to succeed, all you need is a clear goal (which is your tiny habit) and a willingness to let others help you achieve it.
For your habit of daily writing to become a natural part of your life, it’s important to let someone else know if you are sticking to your tiny habit, or whether you need to restart your commitment.
The easiest way to do this is to work with an experienced writing mentor.
How External Support and Encouragement Strengthen Your Commitment
Achievers know how to tap into the skill and knowledge of others to fast-track their development.
For example, whenever I start something new or want to lift a skill to a new level, the first thing I do is to find a trainer, coach, or mentor. I recently started two new physical activities: olympic lifting and mountain biking. Regular sessions with two sports coaches ensured that I was using the correct, safe technique, and understood exactly how to improve rapidly.
If you want to succeed as a writer, working with a mentor will save you years of fruitless toiling.
A writing mentor can keep you on track as an accountability partner, show you shortcuts to achieving your goals, map out a pathway to mastery, and encourage you regularly. This is especially important if you are trying to establish a new habit!
A quick heads-up...
Many of our readers implore us for help and support on their journey as writers. To help budding writers, authors, and bloggers become successful, we are in the process of creating something very exiting: the WritetoDone University. This is a major mission and we hope to get most of the training opportunities in the WTD University set up for you this year.
Putting it All Together
Here are the seven steps to developing a daily writing habit.
Step 1: Acknowledge your dream of becoming a writer and sharing your message with the world.
Step 2: Commit to the tiny habit of writing 20 words each morning for the next four weeks. (You will be raring to write more after these weeks have cemented the new habit!)
Step 3: Create a regular slot in your daily morning routine to incorporate the writing habit.
Step 4: Create reminders by using sticky notes, and make a decision at bed-time to action your tiny writing habit next morning.
Step 5: Celebrate each time you action your tiny writing habit.
Step 6: Ask an accountability partner to keep you on track.
Step 7: Accelerate your development through working with a mentor.
Remember, the tiny habits method will ensure you establish a daily writing practice without needing to use willpower or discipline.
This is a great way to turn your dream of becoming a writer into reality.